Many visitors to London have contacted me in advance of their trip to ask if I can guide them around the Titanic sites of our great City.
I have had many enjoyable days doing just that. But in order to save future visitors – and me – time, I am pleased to set out in this blog my recommended Titanic places of interest in central London.
This is roughly a two-hour walk taking in some of the key monuments and addresses related to RMS Titanic and the public inquiries subsequent to her sinking , which took place in both 1912 and 1913.
We start our walking tour in Westminster, so if you are travelling by tube then head for Westminster tube station and walk to our first stop from there.
1. The London Scottish Drill Hall, 95 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2DX
Currently the home of The London Scottish Regiment, the building was the venue for the British Wreck Commissioner’s inquiry into the sinking, overseen by High Court judge Lord Mersey, between 2nd May and 3rd July 1912. Over 25,000 questions were asked of almost 100 witnesses here.
Now make your way down past Victoria Station, across Eaton Square and up to 24 Belgrave Square. Walking time about 20 minutes.
2. 24 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PG
In 1907 Chairman and Managing Director of the White Star Line, Joseph Bruce Ismay and his wife Florence, arrived for dinner at the Belgrave Square home of Lord Pirrie and his wife Margaret. William James Pirrie was managing director of the Harland Wolff shipyard in Belfast.
Here they talked after dinner over coffee and cigars of a trio of vast, luxurious transatlantic vessels which would provide a three-ship, regular service to New York, to rival the quadruple-screw Lusitania and Mauritania of Cunard.
The trio of leviathan sister ships were originally intended to be named Olympic, Titanic and Gigantic respectively, after the Olympians, the Titans and the Giants of Greek mythology.
Now walk up to Hyde Park Corner, across Park Lane and into Mayfair and 15 Hill Street. Walking time about 20 minutes.
3. 15 Hill Street, London W1J 5LH
The home of Bruce Ismay, Chairman and Managing Director of the White Star Line. From here Bruce Ismay and his wife Florence set off for Southampton and Titanic in their Daimler Landaulet motor car on the morning of Wednesday 15th April 1912, for Titanic’s noon sailing that day. Florence and their chauffeur were setting off for a driving tour of Ireland, leaving only Bruce to sail on his newest ship, the Titanic.
Next head across Berkeley Square and then across Regent Street into Soho and Archer Street. Walking time about 15 minutes.
4. 13-14 Archer Street, London W1D 7BD
This building was originally the home of the National Orchestral Association where musicians rehearsed including the eight who lost their lives on the Titanic: Wallace Hartley, Theodore Brailey, Roger Bricoux, John Clarke, John Hume, George Krins, Percy Taylor, John Woodward. The building is now the offices of Launch PR and still hosts in their upstairs meeting room the Titanic Memorial Fireplace in honour of the musicians, built from funds raised at a concert of over 470 musicians at the Royal Albert Hall in May 1912.
Now head South and walk down Haymarket. Walking time about 5 minutes.
5. Oceanic House, Haymarket SW1Y 5DL
This was the London headquarters of the White Star Line and the ticket office where crowds gathered for news of Titanic after her sinking. There was a second ticket office located at 38 Leadenhall Street in the City of London, which we shall visit later on our tour.
Now walk all the way along the Strand to the far end. Walking time 18 minutes.
6. Royal Courts of Justice, the Strand, WC2A 2LL.
The Third Inquiry into the Titanic tragedy was held between 20-26th June 1913 at the Royal Courts of Justice, featuring fresh testimony from all the surviving Titanic officers including 2nd Officer Charles Lightoller, 5th Officer Harold Lowe, 3rd Officer Herbert Pitman and 4th Officer Joseph Boxhall. Others who testified included the Titanic lookouts Reginald Lee, Frederick Fleet, George Symons and George Hogg, and Marconi operators Harold Bridge and Stanley Adams (Mesaba). Also to give evidence were Joseph Scarrott, AB, a number of Master Mariners and others.
The Hearing took place in the King’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice before Mr Justice Clement Meachem Bailhache and a Special Jury.
The witnesses gave important information about the weather conditions that night. In particular that there was a haze all around the horizon that night, and that the iceberg “came out of that haze”. My research has revealed that the haze all around the horizon may have been a miraging haze caused by abnormal refraction, due to the strong thermal inversion at Titanic’s crash site, caused by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream mingling with the freezing waters of the Labrador Current.
Now head down to the Embankment. Walking time 5 minutes.
7. Stead Memorial, near HMS Wellington, Temple Stairs, Victoria Embankment, WC2R 2PN
American journalist WT Stead was a first class passenger on board the Titanic. This memorial to him records his successful life as a journalist. A near-identical memorial to him in New York contains the following inscription: This tribute to the memory of a journalist of worldwide renown is erected by American friends and admirers. He met death aboard the Titanic April 15 1912 and is numbered amongst those who dying nobly enabled others to live. Finis coronat opus [the end crowns the work]. Stead was on board Titanic to attend a peach conference in America. He entertained his fellow passengers with ghost stories on board Titanic, before tragedy struck.
Next walk to Bank in the City of London. Walking time 25 minutes. This will take you past the beautiful St Paul’s Cathedral.
8. Church of St Edmund the King, 60 Lombard Street, London EC3V 9EA
Located on the western wall of the interior of this church is a small brass plaque, behind glass, set into the dark wooden panelling of the building. The memorial is dedicated to one of the Titanic’s first class passengers, American Charles Melville Hays. Hays was the managing director of the Grand Trunk Railway and was travelling on Titanic as Bruce Ismay’s guest. Bruce Ismay, the owner of the Titanic, survived, but his guest sadly did not.
Walk to the end of Lombard Street, turn left on Gracechurch Street then right into Leadenhall Street. Walking time 5 minutes.
9. 38 Leadenhall Street, London EC3A 1AT
In 1912 this site was the City ticket office of the White Star Line.
Now you deserve a rest! Enjoy the eateries of London – or take a boat to Greenwich on the River Thames. The day is now your own!
I hope you enjoyed my Titanic Tour.